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Nadal plans to take it slow in Chile

ESPN staff
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Rafael Nadal has not played a competitive tennis match since his shock second-round defeat at Wimbledon © Getty Images
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Rafael Nadal insists that patience holds the key to his bid to return to the top of men's tennis as he prepares to hit a ball in anger for the first time in eight months at the Chile Open.

The 11-time grand slam champion has been laid low by tendonitis since his shock second-round defeat at Wimbledon by Lukas Rosol in June, but after aborted comebacks ahead of the Australian Open, which he also skipped, the Spaniard will finally return in Vina del Mar.

"I have to take it slowly and be humble to know that things won't be as good as they were before my injury," said Nadal, who will play a doubles match on Tuesday before his first singles encounter on Wednesday.

"I need weeks of working on the circuit. I need to be patient. Hopefully I'll show an acceptable level."

Nadal, 26, missed the US Open, the defence of his Olympic title in London and Spain's Davis Cup final defeat by Czech Republic in 2012 amid fears about his long-term future in the sport.

For now, the former world No. 1 is focused on easing his way back into the grueling tennis circuit, and sees no reason why he cannot return to the heights he reached when he was injury-free.

"Results are the least important thing right now," Nadal added. "If my knee doesn't hurt, I have no fear. I've had had more serious injuries in the past and I got stronger after them.

"This is the injury that has sidelined me the longest so maybe it will take me a bit longer to get back my confidence, the good feeling on court, but if my knee doesn't hurt I don't see why I couldn't get back my movements and game style."

Men's rankings: 1. Novak Djokovic (SRB), 2. Roger Federer (SUI), 3. Andy Murray (GBR), 4. David Ferrer (ESP), 5. Rafael Nadal (ESP), 6. Tomas Berdych (CZE), 7. Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG), 8. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA), 9. Janko Tipsarevic (SRB), 10. Richard Gasquet (FRA)

Women's rankings: 1. Victoria Azarenka (BLR), 2. Serena Williams (USA), 3. Maria Sharapova (RUS), 4. Agnieszka Radwanska (POL), 5. Li Na (CHN), 6. Angelique Kerber (GER), 7. Sara Errani (ITA), 8. Petra Kvitova (CZE), 9. Samantha Stosur (AUS), 10. Marion Bartoli (FRA)

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